Passage to Palmerston – part 2

By 10.00 on Saturday 26 August the winds had started to fill in with some squally showers which we had managed to dodge. The seas were about 8 feet and the wind was 18 knots – so it looked like the weather was coming in as forecast. A bit rolly onboard but all was well.
By 17.00 the wind had nudged up to 25 knots and the seas were about 10 feet – we reefed down even more – and started to run downwind on a double-reefed genoa only. By 18.00 we had had dinner and Richard was off watch. The sun disappeared into the gloom and the wind I reefed down more….and it went up to 32 knots so I reefed down to a handkerchief-sized genoa. This obviously slowed Morpheus down but we were still making reasonable time and the angle of the waves wasn’t too horrendous, just a bit uncomfortable. Especially when a rogue one hit the port side and broke over the coach roof.
And that set the scene for the night – the wind went up and down between 18 and 35 knots – and we kept on ploughing through. It rained on and off in squalls but we both tucked up in the corner of the cockpit to avoid the worst. It was cold enough to wear long trousers and jackets too….
By the morning of Sunday 27 August nothing had changed. There was no visible sunrise in the gloom. The skies were grey and heavy, the wind was howling, and the seas were big with rogue waves giving us a kick every now and again. Frustratingly MetBob, the specialist weather forecaster for this region, blogged today and said avoid this squash zone area this week. Bit late when we were already out here having followed his advice last week that it was a good time to go west!!! Oh well, never mind, it is all good experience. I have just downloaded the latest weather forecast and it looks like even stronger winds are forecast now for the rest of our passage and beyond. The question was should we push on to Palmerston or activate Plan B and head to Aiutaki?
Richard joined me later in the morning and we debated our options. The only problem with Plan B now was our speed….we would arrive during the night….and that was not a sensible alternative. To slow down means staying out in these conditions anyway so we might as well push on. Decision made then, Palmerston it is.
By the time we moved into our evening shifts the weather had deteriorated further with sustained winds of 40 knots, gusts higher, and 15 foot high seas. But Morphie kept pushing on and we were confident in her. Rogue growling waves were appearing more frequently and then one picked us up and slammed us on our side putting the top of the life lines in the water. Morphie quickly recovered to an upright position and both of us were safe and unharmed – I had been tucked into the corner on the low side in the cockpit (harnessed in) and Richard was on the low side too down below secured by a lee cloth. So we weren’t thrown about, we didn’t get hurt, and apart from a couple of opened zips on the dodger everything was fine. Can you believe the force of the water opened zips?!? We were particularly grateful not to have lost any fuel cans from the rail. Anyway…..there were a few more rogue waves…..but that was the worst of it. Don’t worry folks we were never in danger, Morpheus was built for this!
During the early hours of Monday 28 August, the winds had started to diminish slightly and the seas had also flattened. So by the time it was light the wind was only 25 knots. Much more comfortable and the forecast says the worst is over. So onward we push. At this moment in time we have covered more than 400 miles and anticipate making landfall on Wednesday morning.
Bye for now Jan